Where people are moving in North Carolina

There’s an interesting map in an online article from The Charlotte Observer today.  It’s a county-by-county look at population change since the last census in 2016, and it shows clearly where population is growing, and where it’s shrinking.  It’s much as you would expect.  There’s a lot of growth in North Carolina’s cities and their surrounding counties.  Wake County (Raleigh) grew at 16.2%, while Mecklenburg (Charlotte) grew at 14.7%.  The fastest growing was actually Brunswick County (Wilmington) at 18.2%.  The Triad and Asheville areas also saw growth.

But lots of counties saw declines in population.  Northampton County’s population fell by 9.5%, while Washington County’s dropped 7.8% and Bertie County’s by 6.7%.  Overall, 49 counties saw some decline in population, while 51 saw increases.

Overall, the state saw an increase in population of 6.4% from 2010 to 2016, so some of what we’re seeing here is a migration of people from rural to urban communities.  It’s all part of the rural-urban divide we hear so much about in North Carolina.  The challenge for local governments in urban areas is how to deal with sometimes dramatic population growth and the strain it can put on infrastructure, schools, and local service provision.  The challenge for local governments in rural areas is how to encourage the real and sustainable economic growth that will attract new residents in the long term.

Leef highlights latest union horror story for Forbes

George Leef’s latest Forbes column focuses on another example of labor union thuggery.

Labor unions have been known to do many despicable things to grab dues money from workers who don’t want anything to do with them. A current Minnesota case is about as bad as you’ll ever find.

In 2013, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) got one of its favored politicians, Minnesota governor Mark Dayton, to sign an order declaring that home healthcare providers who receive Medicaid money to care for disabled family members were government employees. But they were “employees” only because that made them eligible for unionization. The SEIU figured that it had a good shot at finagling a victory in an election, which would then lead to a nice infusion of new dues money.

The election, conducted under the auspices of the friendly state bureaucracy, was done entirely through mail-in ballots and under its rules, a victory required only a majority of the votes cast. When the votes were counted in 2014, 3,543 were in favor of the union and 2,306 against. There were about 27,000 home healthcare providers, so with just 13 percent of the total number, the SEIU was declared the representative of all 27,000.

Nearly 24,000 home caregivers had become union members without their consent or even over their dissent.

Some of them were surprised to learn about this, which they discovered only when their checks from the government arrived with a deduction for union dues. Three percent of the money these home caregivers had counted on to cover the cost of assisting disabled family members had been skimmed off and deposited in the union’s treasury. It’s another example of, in Frederic Bastiat’s useful phrase, “legal plunder.”

GOP senators still not buying into House health care plan

Susan Crabtree reports for the Washington Examiner that the American Health Care Act still faces a tough legislative path, even if it clears the U.S. House of Representatives.

The national spotlight is trained on House Republicans’ furious efforts to pass a healthcare bill this week, but the measure faces an even more difficult path in the Senate, where just three GOP senators could sink it.

As it stands, there are eight senators who have expressed serious reservations about the revised House bill aimed at repealing and replacing Obamacare – more than enough to torpedo its passage in the closely divided, 52-48 GOP majority Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the Senate is plowing ahead with a vote on the measure next week if it passes, as planned, in the House by Friday.

“We are not slowing down,” McConnell told reporters after a closed-door meeting with the Senate GOP Tuesday. “We are going forward.”

Despite the public confidence, McConnell is facing a difficult balancing act. He has repeatedly told fellow senators they have the ability to amend the Senate version of the bill when it comes to a vote on the floor. But if GOP centrists go too far in winning changes they want, the measure will lose essential conservative votes.

A trio of conservative Republicans have said they oppose the measure – Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, and Rand Paul of Kentucky. The senators have echoed the similar sentiments as those of the House Freedom Caucus, which has blasted the bill as “Obamacare-lite.”

Trashing anti-franchise rules

Bill McMorris of the Washington Free Beacon highlights potential changes to harmful Obama administration labor rules.

A senior Trump administration official indicated the White House will give employers more input into regulatory actions and is willing to abandon a controversial Obama-era rule on franchising.

Acting-Solicitor of Labor Nicholas Geale said in a March 17 lecture at Georgetown University that the Department of Labor would act with more “humility” when it comes to setting labor regulations. He said there would be a particular focus on assisting small businesses, which have less access to labor attorneys and the funds required for compliance fees.

“You’ll see in the new administration that we will do a lot more outreach and attempt to assist, particularly, small employers who may not have the ability to have the excellent counsel like the people in this room,” Geale said in remarks that were first reported by Law 360. “We’re very concerned about compliance with small business. […] They don’t often have the best advice and capacity to contact attorneys for compliance. So that’s certainly going to be something that I am going to do my best to encourage the department, its agencies and the solicitor’s office, to promote compliance opportunities.”

Geale also said that the administration may decide to abandon the National Labor Relations Board and Labor Department efforts to hold parent companies liable for workplace violations committed by subcontractors or franchisees.

The NLRB overturned decades of precedent that held in 2015 that companies could be held responsible for misconduct by franchisees.

Several companies and industry groups have challenged that interpretation in federal court. Geale said that he did not think such enforcement actions would withstand judicial scrutiny, though he added that he would defer to the desires of the eventual Secretary of Labor.

Trying to save their own budgets

Ethan Barton of the Daily Caller shines light on nonprofit groups that have criticized President Trump’s budget plan.

Six nonprofit groups that criticized President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts failed to mention the nearly $179 million in Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grants they’ve received since 2009, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group (TheDCNF) analysis of federal spending data.

The agency has funded thousands of such groups since former President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration, but TheDCNF focused only on six of the largest nonprofit recipients in its analysis of grant data compiled by the watchdog Open The Books.

Those nonprofits also received additional funding from other federal agencies across the government. It’s possible some or all of these groups will see their federal funding slashed or eliminated all together if Trump’s budget proposal is approved.

The six nonprofits have varying missions and represent EPA’s widespread use of taxpayer funds to advance the environmental agency’s legislative, public relations and regulatory agenda. For example, the largest recipient – Senior Service America Inc. – provides low-paying jobs to senior citizens.

Not surprisingly, Trump’s proposed budget cuts “would be absolutely devastating,” Senior Service America research manager Bob Harootyan told NBC News on March 16. The group has taken more than $533 million from federal agencies, including EPA, since 2009, mostly through a Department of Labor program Trump has proposed to eliminate.

Additionally, 99.6 percent of Senior Service America’s revenue in 2015 was government funded, according to the group’s 990 tax form.

The remaining five groups analyzed advocate for aggressive EPA regulatory action to ensure clean water, clean air, conservation and support for environmental science research. They, like Senior Service America, railed against Trump’s proposed budget cuts, but omitted the fact that they received millions in federal funding.

Separation of art and state

Michael Tanner‘s latest National Review Online column explains why federal taxpayer funding for art ought to dry up.

As the husband and stepfather of accomplished artists, I take art very seriously. It is, in the words of President Kennedy, “close to the center of a nation’s purpose and a test of the quality of a nation’s civilization.” But for all that, Donald Trump is absolutely right in his desire to defund the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

According to its supporters, without the NEA, art in America would cease to exist. They have a point. Absolutely nothing can happen in this country unless the federal government funds or mandates it. Without Washington we are a wasteland. After all, the NEA wasn’t established until 1965, and before that there was hardly an American artist to be found. Well, except maybe people like Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keefe, John Singer Sargent, Edmonia Lewis, Charles Sheeler, Mary Cassatt, Winslow Homer . . .

The NEA’s budget is a paltry $138 million. By contrast, private philanthropy contributes more than $17 billion every year to support for the arts. Ticket and merchandise sales bring in another $12.7 billion. In fact, government sources at all levels, federal, state, and local, contribute less than 4 percent of arts funding.

What supporters of the NEA are really complaining about is a lack of funding for art that they like. The boobs and illiterates out there in Trumpland can’t be expected to understand or support “real” art. How could they possible fund art worth viewing? If you want to know why we are saddled with a President Trump, that attitude goes a long way toward explaining it.

There’s no free lunch: Trump edition

Ben Shapiro writes at National Review Online that President Trump ought to stop promising free stuff for his supporters.

Democratic politics is riven by a central conflict: the conflict between truth and desire. People generally want things; they want government to give them those things. Conservatives aren’t wrong when they say they can’t compete with Santa Claus — it’s far harder to draw voters to your side by telling them they won’t get something than by telling them that they’ll get real estate on the moon.

But thankfully, there is another human tendency that helps counteract the desire to receive from the government: the natural outrage at being lied to. Human beings aren’t fond of being promised the moon and then delivered moldy cheese.

This means that voters will support politicians who lie credibly, then turn radically on those politicians when those lies don’t work out. The result: a wildly variant politics in which nobody ever tells the truth — because telling the truth means avoiding the promises that get you elected. …

… Sure, Trump would make big-government promises, sound like a statist on health care and trade and economics. But he’d win, don’t you see? And his dishonesty would all be worthwhile, since he’d then pursue policies conservatives would like.

Trump’s victory rewarded that theory. But the theory is untenable.

It’s untenable because conservatives don’t seek the same policy results that leftists do. That means that Trump’s promises are bound to come up empty. And that means that Trump and the Republicans have placed themselves back on the horns of an ancient dilemma: They can lie to the people by promising them free things, but those things won’t materialize.

That, after all, is exactly what happened to President Obama.

New Carolina Journal Online features

Dan Way reports for Carolina Journal Online on a bill to set term limits for members of the N.C. General Assembly.

The Daily Journal laments political progressives’ disinterest in a reform that adds progressivity to North Carolina’s flat income tax rate.